Chile: more tests requested in Neruda death probe
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A Chilean judge isn’t ready to close the probe into the mysterious death of Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda four decades ago.
Chile’s medical legal service said on Friday that judge Mario Carroza, who is investigating the case, has requested more tests for substances that were not found during a first round of investigations.
They will be carried out in Spain and other countries that were not specified.
“We continue to work to determine the exact cause of death of the poet,” the medical legal service said in a brief statement.
Neruda’s body was exhumed in April 2013 to determine the cause of his death. Forensic tests revealed no suspicious chemical agents in Neruda’s bones. But his family and driver were not satisfied and requested more proof.
Neruda died during the chaos that followed Chile’s 1973 military coup. The official version is that the poet died of cancer. But Neruda’s former driver has said for years that agents of the dictatorship injected poison into the leftist poet’s stomach while he was bedridden at the Santa Maria clinic in Santiago.
Neruda won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 after a prolific career, and he’s still best known worldwide for his love poems.
He also was a leftist politician and diplomat, and a close friend of socialist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender to troops during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Neruda, who was 69 at the time and suffered from prostate cancer, was traumatized by the coup and the persecution and killing of his friends. He planned to go into exile, where he would have been an influential voice against the dictatorship.
But a day before he planned to leave, he was taken by ambulance to the Santa Maria clinic, where he was being treated for cancer and other ailments.
Officially, Neruda died there on Sept. 23 of natural causes. But suspicions that the dictatorship had a hand in the death lingered long after Chile returned to a democracy in 1990.